HC Deb 15 June 1927 vol 207 cc997-9

asked the Minister of Labour what is the standard of life or the purchasing power of industrial wages, taking the purchasing power of British wages as 100, in the following countries: Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, Silesia, and Czechoslovakia; and whether, in view of the adverse effect upon British trade of the low conditions abroad, he proposes to take steps, through the International Labour Office or by other means, to explore the possibilities of raising the standard of life of European workers generally or of the miners in particular?


As the reply involves a number of figures, I propose, with the hon. Member's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

As regards the first part of the question, the only information in my possession is that published by the International Labour Office, relating to the food-purchasing power of the average hourly time rate of wages in a number of occupations in London and certain cities abroad. The comparative figures on 1st January, 1927, were published in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" for May, and for the countries mentioned in the question were as follows:

Country. City. Index Number of Comparative Real Wages.
United Kingdom London 100
Germany* Berlin 67
France Paris 57
Belgium Brussels 42
Poland*{ Warsaw 41
Lodz 45
Czechoslovakia Prague 49
* No figures are available for Silesia.

Owing to difficulties in obtaining from the different countries comparable statistics both of wages and food prices, the comparison is confined to a few occupations and a limited number of articles of food, and is, therefore, subject to reservations, which are set out in detail on pages 608 to 613 of the "International Labour Review" for April, 1927.

As regards the last part of the question, the International Labour Organisation, established under the Treaty of Versailles, exists for the express purpose of improving the conditions of labour, and it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to co-operate in promoting any measures likely to have practical effect in this direction.